Tianzhu Academic Network

The Centre's activities in the context of the Tianzhu academic network

In 2017, the Centre became part of a global network of universities doing research on East-Asian Buddhism and more particularly Chinese Chan.  The other members of this international partnership are the University of British Columbia, the University of California, Berkeley, Harvard University, the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO) and McMaster University. Within the context of this exciting venture, the Centre is organizing the following activities:

March 2-March 12, 2018: visiting scholar Dr. Georgios T Halkias (Centre of Buddhist Studies, The University of Hong Kong):

Lecture on Thursday March 8:

The Shitro Ceremony and Lay Tantric Buddhism in Amdo, Qinghai Province

Professional practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism belong either to the ‘red sangha’ (dge ‘dun mar po) that includes celibate nuns and monks who wear the maroon robes, or the ‘white sangha’ (dge ‘dun dkar po), a lay community of male and female tantrists or ngakpa (sngags pa / sngags ma; Skt. māntrin). The latter are also known as those who wear the ‘white cloth’ and have uncut ‘braided hair’ (gos dkar lcang lo can), two distinctive markers of lay, and usually non-celibate, tantric practitioners. It would be fair to say, that the ngakpa of Rebkong in the north-eastern part of the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai province, are well known in the Tibetan cultural world for comprising the largest community of householder tantric practitioners.  In this presentation, I will briefly introduce the history of the Rebkong community of ngakpas that belong to the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, known as the Reb kong snangs mang (a group of tantrists from Rebkong), and share some audio-visual material and observations from my fieldwork participation in the ceremony of the ‘100 peaceful and wrathful deities,’ the Shitro (zhi khro), that took place in June 2017 at the village of Shakarlung in the district of Rebkong.

For more information, write Christoph.Anderl@ugent.be

Long-term Visiting Scholars 2017-2018: Pu Chengzhong (Shanghai University, PRC)

Pu Chengzhong Length of Stay: March 23-May 25

Chengzhong Pu completed his PhD in Buddhist Studies at SOAS, London University and did a one-year Post-doctorate with Professor Jonathan Silk at LIAS, Leiden University, followed by serving as an associate researcher for nearly a year at the Research Centre for Humanistic Buddhism, Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is currently a lecturer of Shanghai University.
As a visiting scholar here at University of Gent, his current research topic is “A Preliminary Study of the Shi'er you jing (十二游经)”, trying to investigate this dubious Buddhist scripture through tracing some information in the text to Chinese Buddhist translations.

Long-term Visiting Scholars 2017-2018: Li Gang (Academia Turfanica, PRC)

Length of Stay: April 3-June 29 Li Gang

Li Gang obtained his PhD  from Minzu University of China. A Xinjiang native, he is currently Associate Professor at Academia Turfanica and the English-language chief editor for the journal Turfan Studies. As a member of the Association for Chinese Ancient Ethnic Characters, his research engages with with old Uighur and Turkic documents.

In Ghent, Li Gang works on the classification and decipherment of Uighur Buddhist documents and Uighur cave inscriptions, work that will be useful for both the study of Uighur philology and Uighur Buddhism.

April 16-April 30, 2018: visiting scholar Dr. Hong Xiuping (Professor at Nanjing University, PRC)

Lecture (in Mandarin) on April 27th:

“从‘心’义种种看南宗禅的特色” [A variety of perspectives on the Southern Chan school's specificity, departing from the meanings of the character "Mind"]





Translation of the first two paragraphs:

After Buddhism spread from ancient India to China, it underwent an unceasing process of change. From the perspective of ideas and discourse, it is essential to look at the development of how Buddhism mixed with native Confucianist and Daoist ideas to form a Chinese Buddhism with Chinese characteristics. The Southern school of Chan Buddhism, founded by the Sixth Patriarch Huineng, is a representative case of this Chinese Buddhism.

The Southern school of Chan took shape in the middle of the sinification of Buddhism and in the middle of the development of Chan. From the Chan doctrines of the “Five Chinese Patriarchs,” the Chan lineage of Bodhidharma to Hongren, the meaning of the character “mind” continuously changed, exhibiting two tendencies. From the poems of Huineng and Shenxiu, we can discover the differences between the Northern and Southern Schools of Chan.

May 28-June 1st, 2018: Doctoral school on "Buddhism and Silk Culture" featuring Stuart Young as a guest lecturer.

(c)Stuart YoungThanks to Tianzhu, 5 international doctoral students will be able to use a travel stipend to attend this school. Below, please find an overview of the schedule. And click here for more information.

  • May 28 - June 1, 2018

Venue: het Pand, Onderbergen 1, 9000 Gent

  • DAY 1: Monday 28 May, 2018 (lunch break 12:00-13:30)

09:30: Welcome of the participants by the Doctoral School organizers (Ann Heirman, Christoph Anderl)
10:00 – 12:00: Course overview: Buddhism in the silk cultures of medieval China; The Chinese history, technology, and vocabulary of silk and sericulture* (lecture, with active participation)
12:00 – 13:30: lunch break
13:30 – 15:30: Research sources primary and secondary, textual, visual, and material; Archaeology of Chinese Silk, Dunhuang 敦煌 and Famensi 法門寺 (interactive presentation and discussion of sources)

  • DAY 2: Tuesday 29 May, 2018 (lunch break 12:00-13:30)

10:00 – 12:00: Vinaya and material culture (Ann Heirman)* (lecture with active participation)
12:00 – 13:30: lunch break
13:30 – 15:30: Silk in the Vinaya (disciplinary monastic rules) and Chinese Vinaya Commentaries (1: Dharmaguptaka)

  • DAY 3: Wednesday 30 May, 2018 (lunch break 12:00-13:30)

10:00 – 12:00: Silk in the Vinaya and Chinese Vinaya Commentaries (2: Sarvāstivāda and Mahīśāsaka)
12:00 – 13:30: lunch break
13:30 – 15:30: Discussion with students, Q+A

  • DAY 4: Thursday 31 May, 2018 (lunch break 12:00-13:30)

10:00 – 12:00: Daoxuan’s 道宣 (596-667) Xingshi chao 行事鈔 commentary on the silk bedding precept
12:00 – 13:30: lunch break
13:30 – 15:30: Daoxuan’s commentaries in comparison with Dajue大覺 (fl. 712)

  • DAY 5: Friday 1 June, 2018 (lunch break 12:00-13:30)

10:00 – 12:00: Chinese views of silk in India: travelogues, hagiographies, miracle tales (1)
12:00 – 13:30: lunch break
13:30 – 15:00: Chinese views of silk in India: travelogues, hagiographies, miracle tales (2)
15:00 – 16:00: Final discussions with students (Stuart Young, Ann Heirman, Christoph Anderl)

* Lectures also suitable for a more general audience (including PhD students of (art) history, etc.)

Tianzhu Fieldwork Fellowship: Daphne Stremus

Tianzhu also provides funding for one Ghent University graduate student to travel to East Asia to do Buddhism-related fieldwork. We are happy to announce that for the academic year 2017-2018, this award has been given to Ms. Daphne Stremus, who will travel to Sichuan in August.

Ghent Database of Medieval Chinese

Thanks to the generous funding of the Tianzhu academic network, work on the programming of the Ghent Database of Medieval Chinese can also proceed as planned.